When threatened, South American tarantulas rub off body hairs with their legs and fire them at their attacker. These hairs are very uncomfortable when breathed in or when they get stuck in your skin. South American tarantulas only tend to bite and use their venom if the hairs haven’t scared off their attacker.
Where can you see them?
Several species of tarantulas are found in the rainforests of South America. These huge hairy spiders generally hide away during the day in burrows underground or in tunnel-shaped homes in trees. They may dig tunnels with their fangs or use existing holes.
What do they eat?
They hunt by night, waiting and watching for prey to pounce on. Despite being commonly referred to as ‘bird-eating’ spiders, they eat more insects. Larger rainforest tarantulas will also eat small lizards, snakes, frogs, bats and small birds when they get the opportunity. They must mash their prey into tiny bits before they can eat them.
Why are they important?
As well as helping control the populations of other invertebrates, tarantulas are an important food source for other animals, including weasels, hawks, owls, skunks, snakes and spider-hunting wasps.